Connecting with young people in the Twin Cities

By Jon Krieg

Ebelin Morales Delgado coordinates all the social media for Youth Undoing Institutional Racism (YUIR) Twin Cities (see Facebook, Instagram and Twitter). In this interview, Ebelin talks about work to connect with young people as they face challenges with physical distancing, remote learning and systemic racism. Ebelin describes YUIR’s Summer Intensive Training, which included a session on encouraging youth to think about businesses they might be interested in starting. Below are excerpts:

On being heard by school officials

A lot of youth are struggling with getting materials for school. We had one young man come to our town hall saying that the teachers aren’t communicating with them and aren’t giving them the proper resources to do their work. He was saying, “I need a laptop, I need textbooks. I need support from my teachers, but they’re not giving me what I need to be able to learn.”

There’s a lot of frustration. Youth are feeling like they’re being tossed into this new circumstance, and they are. The conversation is intended to get those students and teachers to see each other. So far, that has worked. The response from adults has been overwhelmingly positive. They really do understand where students are coming from, too.

The two town halls we’ve hosted have been very productive and positive because young people have the opportunity to be seen by those decision makers.

On entrepreneurship

We had a piece about entrepreneurship [during AFSC/YUIR Summer Intenstive Training (SIT)]. We had youth present a business idea they had. For example, one youth had the idea to have a place for youth to hang out and chill, do homework, where they have access to Wi-Fi, with access to snacks.

We had another youth with an idea for a business to do nails, and another idea was for athletic equipment. That was a really cool piece because what we wanted to communicate in that Summer Intensive Training was a way you can rebuild your own community with your own ideas. That was really cool for youth to actually put that into action.

By sharing their ideas for businesses, it was a way to get them thinking about how they can actually accomplish their ideas. We as adults can give them the resources to do that. Rebuilding through entrepreneurship in your community was one of the cool things about the SIT.

On the aftermath of the police murder of George Floyd

My impression is things have calmed down a bit. For a while, there was a ton of contention among people in the community around reopening that intersection, making it a roundabout—there was a lot of conversation around what would happen with that intersection. So far, to my knowledge, the intersection is closed to traffic....

People are still fighting for it to be some sort of official memorial. I know the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board put out a sign that read: “George Floyd Square.” So there may be plans to make it an official landmark....

They are still in talks [about defunding the Minneapolis Police Department]. I did hear something about MPD getting a $1.5 million budget cut, which, compared to their full budget, hardly makes a dent.

Read the full interview with Ebelin here.